I’ve been noticing a resurgence of the silly “chicken hawk” argument around the blogosphere the last couple of days. Alex Knapp notes that that meme went around in January. Indeed, Christopher Hitchens did a beautiful job shredding that canard on Veterans’ Day 2002. Let’s get past the silly name calling, shall we?

Update (1603): Baldilocks has coined the tongue-in-cheek term “chicken dove”:

If the “chickenhawk” meme is a justifiable one, conversely, does that mean that all of the legion non-veteran 60s protesters of the Vietnam War also had no legitimate opinion to offer on the subject? Heck, what did they know about being a soldier? Right?


(Hat tip: Dean Esmay)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. JC says:

    More political correctness? I’m sure if we can get treasonous, unpatriotic and other words from being attached to liberals – not to mention statist, totalitarian and communist – we can probably reach agreement.

    Until then, I think this will fall on deaf ears.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Neither does much to advance the debate.

    The “chicken hawk” label is particularly silly in its premise, because it implies that only some people are allowed to talk about public policy. Still, all the ad hominem-type arguments get us away from discussing the issues.

  3. JC says:

    I agree. I don’t use it myself, and think it’s rather childish shorthand. But my point remains. The term Chickenhawk is a democratic creation and we should stop using it. However, my list of words that belong to the other side are in far more common use. Heck, even my good friend Paul gives me a liberal helping (pun intended) of them from time to time.

  4. JC says:

    BTW, check out Dave’s latest. I know you’ll think it insane, but at least give it a read.

  5. Paul says:

    But there is a different JC…

    When I call you an idiot is not just calling you a name… it is an accurate description.

    Since you still don’t get it… I’ll explain it.

    If you notice carefully I tend to react to people EXACTLY the way they behave plus 10% for illustrations sake. This technique drives people like you crazy.

    When the rare liberal is found that can hold an intelligent debate I act accordingly.

    When idiots like Kevin at Calpunditz say that liberals should bash conservative and be rude about it, I will tear him to shreds. (and son of a gun, I’ll be rude about it)

    Your problem is that you have no clue what intelligent discourse is. All you know is to throw bombs at the other side. (and you even brag that you don’t care if what you say is true or accurate.)

    When you act like that, you have not earned anything that resembles respect and actually get a fair amount of distain.

    And son of a gun, I react accordingly.

    Since you have replied 3 times to this post, you apparently see this as a great evil. You claim it is a great evil on both sides. OK Let’s see if you mean it or you are a hopeless hypocrite.

    You can raise the level of discourse and set the example. You can quit throwing bombs and discuss things in an intelligent way.

    Will you do it, or are you a liar?


    BTW- I wouldn’t take that bet with the points.

  6. JC says:

    Wow Paul. You pretty much prove my point. Touche’

  7. Paul says:

    And you mine JC…

    Your protestations fall on deaf ears as long you partake in the exact behavior you condone.

    See.. Calling you a hypocrite is not just invective, it’s accurate.

  8. JC says:

    Thanks Paul. I do appreciate it.

  9. Fox Molder says:

    ChickenHawk properly refers only to people who stressed the importance of a war while personally avoiding service in said conflict.

    Its a colorful way of saying ‘hypocrite’. It has no bearing on a ‘right’ to comment on making war, it merely (if correctly applied) brings up the chickenhawk’s consistency and possibly elitism.